Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Life After Dairy: Day 3

Today started off with the last milk substitute in our fridge: almond milk. I actually expected it to be the best of all three choices as a plain beverage, but the surprising winner in this category was actually oat milk (it surprised me!). Almond milk tasted exactly like it sounds, liquid almonds; I expected it to be sweeter than it actually was, but it is lowest in calories compared to rice and oat milk (about 60 calories per serving in comparison to the other to options that have about double the calories). Since I wasn't too convinced by almond milk by itself I simply tried it as hot chocolate, and it tasted pretty good. I guess almond milk would work well as a milk substitute in all recipes that can use some additional almond flavor (a good tip would be to check the sweetness, since I noticed that the hot chocolate prepared with almond milk needed some additional sugar, but that is simply my personal taste). Going from there, I decided to use our wonderful parent group as a test audience and brought a dish of vegan oven-baked pancakes for our Sunday brunch. I think it meet broad approval there, based on the fact that most of it was eaten. For everyone interested, here's the recipe:

lots and lots of your favorite fruit, cut in bite-sized pieces if necessary (I used 5 pears and about half a bag frozen raspberries)
2 cups + 4 tablespoons of flour (I used regular white flour, but whole wheat would work as well)
~ 3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups + some extra almond milk (the "some extra" means add enough to make a smooth, not too thick batter)

Layer the fruit at the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Combine dry ingredients for pancake batter and mix; add almond milk and combine with a wire whisk. Pour batter over fruit and bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes (check if it is done with a toothpick).

Important note: the batter will not brown as regular pancake batter would, so don't think it is not done just because the top is still very pale!

My overall evaluation of the three milk substitutes I tested over the last three days is as follows:

Rice milk: Best for cooking (used it to make scrambled eggs today and worked great) due to its quite neutral taste. Not too tasty as a beverage on its own though.

Oat milk: My clear favorite as a plain beverage! Tastes like liquid oat meal. It is great to eat in not overly sweet cereal or for baking (you might have to use a little less sugar as usual).

Almond milk: Tastes like liquid almonds and is therefore good in any recipe that could use some extra almond flavor. Is not nearly as sweet as it sounds, recipes might need some extra sugar.

I am excited to try more recipes in the days to come; I will keep everyone updated if I come across something especially tasty. Otherwise, I will not bore everyone with daily posts from now on, but rather stick to periodical updates on how we're doing. The general plan is to slowly re-introduce some dairy into my diet once Violet turns 3 months, hoping that her system will tolerate it better then (Italian ice cream in Germany, how will I ache to eat you!). Until then I continue to appreciate any tips for recipes or substitutions (ice cream anyone??).

Even though I hate to label my eating habits in any way (I thought about becoming a vegetarian on several occasions, since I'm not a meat fan anyways, but sometimes I just crave a good piece of chicken or Greek meat, so why not indulge every once in a while?) but I think it would be interesting to try an all-vegan diet for a month or so, just to see how it is. Maybe I'll go for it at some point, who knows..

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